Embarrassing England Overpowered By Rampant Aussies

Today Issac Rawcliffe reviews the 1st Ashes Test. Sadly, it was as bad as many of us had feared…

“Were the late nights really worth it?” The words spoken in unison by England fans around the country following their abject submission to the Australians in the First Test which concluded in a 9 wicket victory for the hosts.

Before every away Ashes series, England fans seem to procure confidence from nowhere and, of course, the Brisbane Test always brings them crashing hastily down to planet Earth. Perhaps Andrew Strauss and his audacity to actually win in Australia is to blame, with the faint memories of 2010/11 still lingering in the minds of those fans that were lucky enough to experience it.

Any confidence in 2021 was shattered on the very first ball of the series when Mitchell Starc sent Rory Burns’ bails flying with a full swinging leg stump delivery that Burns played all around. That set the tone for the rest of the England first innings after Joe Root had won the toss and chosen to bat on a green pitch.

They quickly found themselves 11/3 with Joe Root dismissed for a duck and the momentum well and truly behind the Aussies. England eventually limped to 147 all out on the first day with Jos Buttler and Ollie Pope top scoring with 39 and 35 respectively.

The bowling on the first day was impeccable and quite frankly far too good for such a feeble batting line-up. Pat Cummins in his first Test as captain took 5 wickets and was unplayable at times, especially in such helpful conditions. Josh Hazlewood was equally as impressive and picked up the crucial wicket of Joe Root in the first session.

The Aussies unsurprisingly fared a lot better than the visitors with the bat. Despite an early breakthrough in Marcus Harris and some very disciplined and skilful bowling from England’s seamers, David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne managed to survive some close calls and cash in once they were set.

Warner and Labuschagne took a particular liking to Jack Leach, which meant that England couldn’t rely on their spinner to hold up an end. Leach went for 102 runs in his 13 overs as Warner and Labuschagne scored 94 and 74 respectively.

England did at one stage find themselves with a glimmer of hope as they had the Australians 195/5 after Ollie Robinson picked up 3 including a first baller for Cameron Green. But Travis Head, whose place in the side had been questioned leading into the series, responded with a match winning innings of 152 off 148 balls which lifted their final total to 425. Head was aggressive, confident, and dismissive of the England bowling. He scored at such a rate that the wind was knocked out of England’s sails.

The pick of the bowlers were the 3 seamers Robinson, Woakes and Wood, who toiled away for little reward. They bowled in challenging areas, Woakes and Robinson nipping the ball off the seam and Wood bowling at speeds of up to 94mph. They were unfortunately not ably supported by Ben Stokes, who bowled 15 uncalled no balls in his first few overs, and Jack Leach who was simply too easy to hit.

England had an enormous deficit going into their second innings and needed either a miracle or for all of their batters to stand up and show some fight and application. Unfortunately, both openers were dismissed cheaply once again, although Hameed had looked assured before getting strangled down the legside.

Hope briefly glimmered for England thanks to the bats of Joe Root and Dawid Malan, who both made stylish fifties on Day 3 and finished unbeaten on 86 and 80. Suddenly, with the lead less than 70, England fans were eagerly awaiting the 11:30pm start on day 4. Was this going to be Cook and Trott all over again?

Of course not. All the optimism quickly unravelled as Root and Malan were dismissed in the first session without reaching their centuries. The rest was simply a procession. Nathan Lyon took 4, picking up his 400th Test wicket in the process, whilst Cameron Green bowled exceptionally well, picking up 2 wickets to follow his first Test scalp on the opening day. England slumped to 297 all out, which meant their Day 4 total was a pitiful 77/8.

With only a target of 20 to chase, Australia managed it with only the loss of debutant Alex Carey who was promoted to open. It was miserable viewing for the England fans who stayed up through the night perhaps in hope rather than expectation, but it was the dream start for the Aussies who maintained their outstanding record at the Gabba. Australia now have all the confidence and momentum going into the day-night Test at Adelaide on the 16th.

The England selection panel will face an inquest after the exclusion of both Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad proved incredibly costly. Surely both will be expecting to be back in the side for the Adelaide Test? The batting remains as fragile as ever, but with very little in the way of backup, not many changes can be expected.

Australia will be missing Josh Hazlewood for the next game but have ready-made replacements in Michael Neser and Jhye Richardson, both of whom are handy bowlers.

England will desperately try and forget the first Test, but they are very much up a creek right now with no paddles in sight. At least they finally have some match practice under their belts though.

Isaac Rawcliffe

You can read more of Isaac’s stuff over at his blog Blood, Sweat & Spears.


  • Team selection (assuming they are being honest about fitness) – Broad should have played, instead of Woakes or Robinson. For the two senior bowlers to be ducked out of such a tough and crucial game stinks. Of course all the media boots are being put into selecting Leach and they now have the excuse never to pick him again (outside Asia) which is what they wanted all along. I’d be okay with them selecting Bess as long as they play a specialist spinner at the MCG and SCG (and Root is not a specialist spinner, whatever they say). If anyone thinks a leggie is the answer, didn’t they watch Australia pummel Yasir Shah? What is needed in Australia is a spinner who relies on bounce (which is why Kumble did well there and Shah or Qadir didnt’) and England don’t have one.

    The play – like many people I watched the first sessions and then caught up on highlights. The first session on Day Two had me spitting blood and I keep seeing it being grossly misrepresented. England did not do okay in that session, that opinion is like the old ODIs when England didn’t take middle overs’ wickets and wondered why they got carted at the death. Wood was maybe a bit unlucky but he didn’t pitch it up enough. It was perfect English conditions and to only take one wicket was awful (although Labuschagne played beautifully to his credit). It wasn’t just the no-ball – there was a catch to short-leg but England (yet yet again) hadn’t stationed one and a catch to slip that didn’t carry because Root was too deep. This is a very average fielding side.

    Esoteric extra – I did enjoy when our No.33 was bowling to their No.33. Look up the significance of that number if you don’t catch my meaning.

    Overall – can’t bat, can’t bowl, can’t field, can’t captain, can’t coach. I suspect they’re deluding themselves about the D/N games although Hazlewood being out maybe gives them a slight sniff.

  • I think Andy Bull in The Guardian summed things up pretty well :

    At the end of it all, England ended up leaving out their two senior pros, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, so they could open the attack with two men, Chris Woakes and Ollie Robinson, who have never taken the new ball together, and include a spinner, Jack Leach, who hasn’t bowled in Test cricket in nine months because they didn’t trust him to play all summer, and an all-rounder, Ben Stokes, who hasn’t batted since he faced seven balls in the Hundred in July. Then they got themselves in such a tangle over what to do after the toss that they ended up missing out on the best bowling conditions of the match and were rolled for 147 after winning it.

  • I know it was tiresomely predictable but modern day test cricket has become a series of batting collapses all over the world. We are still probably tops at this and have been for a number of years, but the advent of white ball dominance has clearly had its effect on defensive technique the world over. Batsmen tend to go hard at the ball and this brings close fielders that don’t exist in white ball into play. To me there’s no mystery and there’s no sign of an end to it. Test matches rarely last five days now unless weather intervenes. I guess it’s all about public demand and test cricket is becoming minority interest. There were plenty of spare seats at the Gabba to testify to this. When the one dayers start everywhere will be packed. It’s entirely understandable that supporters want to see both teams batting and bowling and a result.

    • The Ashes is by no means “minority interest” in Australia.

      Come back to me on Boxing Day after there’s 80,000 at the MCG.

      • In that case why were there so many empty seats at the Gabba, which reflects attendances the world over. Australia doesn’t have a significant football presence, like most other counties in the world, where every other sport becomes minority per se. The Ashes is not typical test cricket anyway, its more about nationalism than anything, encompassing a rivalry that’s existed for generations. The Boxing Day test is a traditional day out for many who never go to another test match all year, like the Saturday of the Lords test over here. If we were beating you history shows the Aussie public quickly lose interest in their team. Australians, like Americans need their sportsmen to be winners, which is probably why they do so well. The fact that the Aussie cricket captain is considered by many the second most important job in Australia says everything. It’s inconceivable that any sport would be considered like that in the U.K, even footie.

        • The Gabba Test barely lasted until the weekend. People have to work.

          Australians expect to win. That doesn’t mean they “lose interest”. I’m not sure what “history” you’re referencing.

          The schtick about “the second most important job” is folksy bullshit.

      • Do you think there will be, Tom? I saw something (I think on Cricinfo, although I can’t find it now) saying that tickets were selling quite slowly.

  • The omissions of both Broad and Anderson definitely backfired. Surely you pick one of them at least.

    However, I presume you felt you had to play a spinner. Was there a better option than Leach? Either way, he probably should have played more cricket in the buildup. And it’s now unclear what happens next after he got smacked.

    I also think the decision to bat first was totally defensible. It just so happened that the batsmen didn’t deliver. If you bat first and collapse, does that automatically mean the decision to bat was wrong? I’m not sure it works like that.

    Overall, it may simply be the case that it’s hard for England to win in Australia, particularly when Australia have better players. It may simply be the case that England don’t currently have the cattle, whereas Australia, despite some weaknesses, have 6-7 world-class players and managed to get a great contribution from a lesser light in Head. That adds up to a solid showing. That said, I reckon England have a sniff in Adelaide. Hazlewood’s absence is significant.

    Check out the Grade Cricketer…


    • Six world class players is pushing it to my mind: I’m not sure Starc is quite consistently world-class enough to be world class if you see what I mean.

      But seven is entering the realms of considerable optimism: Warner might be world-class in certain conditions but he averages less than 30 everywhere outside Australia and South Africa, even bolstered by a boot-filling series against Bangladesh; he has one hundred in 33 games against everyone except SA and Bangladesh away from home; and he averages less than 28 in all of West Indies, Sri Lanka, India and England (plus NZ, where he’s only played twice).

      • Warner, Smith, Labushagne, Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood, Lyon.

        Which of them aren’t world-class?

        The batsmen averaging 45+? Or the quicks averaging 20-something?

        Give me a spell.

        • David Warner has 7500 runs at 48, and more Test centuries than any English batsman apart from Alastair Cook.

          But nah, not world-class, says the Englishman.

          You blokes are priceless. I hope you never change.

        • …and he averages less than 30 across seven of the top nine countries. Which part of that don’t you understand? That’s not world-class–it’s world-class in a limited range of conditions, which is something different. Chris Woakes is that, too–would you call him both a world-class test bowler AND a wrold-class test all-rounder?!

          • Last I checked, this series is being played in Australia, where Warner averages 60+.

            If you’re going to start slicing and dicing his record based on geography, that seems more relevant than his average in the West Indies or Sri Lanka.

            Or just take his record overall. The idea that you can score 7500 runs at 48, and that’s not “world class”, is laughable.

            Stop clutching at straws.

          • A career-saving 95 from the struggling, definitely not world-class David Warner.

            Another 5 runs and you’d be wearing it like shit in your shoe.

            Like the bloke who said before Brisbane that Head being picked was cause for optimism.

          • I’m not clutching at any straws–I’m simply pointing out why he isn’t world-class full stop. If you’re talking about this series only, then yes, he has a wonderful record in Australia and he’ll probably be a real handful–as shown again today.

            For someone who spends so much time on here telling other people to stop clutching at straws and making excuses, you aren’t half being chippy and defensive when the shortcomings of an Australia player are pointed out!

            But yes, a player who averages less than 30 in five of the top eight countries and has only played two games in a sixth is world-class without any qualifications. Well, whatever little fantasies float your boat!

            • Warner’s record overall is world class.

              Warner’s record in Australia is world class.

              The series is being played in Australia.

              Which part of that do you dispute?

              But nah, you want to pretend that his record elsewhere supercedes all that?

              You’ve lost your marbles, champ.

              You’re the kind of Pom who gets taken apart by the end of an Ashes series in Australia.

            • As I said, whatever little fantasies float your boat. I don’t write the staistics: it’s not my fault that you’re so touchy about your opener’s shortcomings on the other side of the Equator, however many idiotic personal insults you throw at me!

              • No fantasies, champ. Just facts. Just cold, hard facts.

                7500 runs at 48 sounds world class to me. And for the purposes of this series, which is being played in Australia, how does his record elsewhere discredit that?

                Your argument makes no sense.

                How many English players have scored more Test centuries than Warner?

  • Having Borad & Anderson certainly would have helped, but I’m not sure by how much when the team gets all out for 147. England’s problem is their batting, and it has been poor for a long time, and only shored up by miracle innings from Root & Stokes.

    • Absolutely right. The sad thing to me is that a couple of seasons ago we looked to have a settled, relatively young top six who were likely to make a fist of it in Australia, but none has developed into a Test cricketer, for various reasons. Sibley, Crawley and Pope have produced barely an innings of genuine Test quality between them; Burns looks to have been found out at the top level.and Stokes has yet to show signs of his form in his pomp. Even worse is that there is no one making a pressing case for inclusion. Sadly, the prospects for the future of Test cricket are not good, nor will they be improved without drastic changes to the domestic game, which will not happen as long as everything – even aTest against India – has to be subservient to this obsession with hundred

      • John blames the ECB for Australia having a better team. How novel.

        Mate, what were you saying between 1989 and 2005? Did you spend 16 years blaming the ECB for Australia being better at cricket?

        Do you blame England Rugby whenever England lose to the All Blacks?

        • I agree Tom. Cricket Australia have similarly put huge resources into The Big Bash and the Sheffield Shield has suffered, but Australia still manages to turn out a decent test team. We can’t just blame the ECB for everything.

          • Steady on. Let’s not get too radical here.

            John’s head will explode.

            Blaming the ECB is all he knows. You’re going to take that away from him? How dare you.

        • As so often, when a post doesn’t fit your tedious and predictable narrative,, you are wrong. I said nothing of the sort.

          • The projection is next level.

            You blokes are all about the “tedious and predictable narrative” of pinning it on the ECB whenever you lose.

            WTF do you expect to happen during an Ashes series in Australia when the home team simply has the superior cattle?

            Blaming the administrators is your coping mechanism.

  • In all the English talk about the D/N Adelaide Tests (which seems mostly to focus on Australia’s second innings last time the Ashes were played there or India’s recent capitulation), I’m not seeing much mention of Nathan Lyon’s good record or Australia scoring 589/3d against Pakistan….

  • To repeat what Simon says in his post:
    “Overall – can’t bat, can’t bowl, can’t field, can’t captain, can’t coach. I suspect they’re deluding themselves about the D/N games although Hazlewood being out maybe gives them a slight sniff”.
    I totally agree and would add: cannot read pitch conditions and pick the right players. I mean no Broad or Anderson on this green top? It beggars belief.
    It will be interesting to see whether a declining Broad and/or ageing Anderson can pull something out of the hat next up.

  • England have lost every single day-night Test they’ve played away. Australia have won every single day-night they’ve played at home.

    So why are England’s management targeting this particular game as one we’re likely to win? Why did we apparently save Anderson and Broad for this particular game?

    Seems like we’re clutching at straws. Chris Silverwood isn’t the reason why England’s cupboard is bare. But he doesn’t half seem to be mismanaging the resources available.

    • Yes, James, we’re clutching at straws I’m afraid. We mustn’t forget that two of the daily three sessions in day/night Tests are played in clear daylight (overheads permitting), and I’ve yet to see any data to prove that the pink ball swings more than the red one.

      For all his gifts, Anderson hasn’t swung the Duke’s ball very much in recent seasons – both India’s and New Zealand’s pace attacks outdid him in that respect last summer – and Broad relies on movement off the pitch rather than swing through the air. So for him it’s the state of the track that’s key: not the colour of the ball.

      There’s talk of Leach being dropped – sorry, ‘rotated’ – and a four-man attack of Anderson, Broad, Robinson and Woakes/Wood. That looks worryingly samey to me, especially if they rest Wood. Stokes and Root, for different reasons, are mere back-up options at the moment in case of emergencies. And if they don’t pick a spinner, watch out for more match fee fines and Test Championship points being deducted.

      All in all, it’s looking on the bleak side: all the more reason to invoke the spirit of Emma Raducanu and Max Verstappen, Paul Lawrie, Leicester City and Lord Beefy himself – and remember that nothing in sport is impossible. England to win in four days!

    • I think it’s as much completely misreading the situation as clutching at straws, although there may be an element of that too.

      First in assuming that a day-night test is automatically going to produce conditions right through the game that resemble a cloudy April morning at Chelmsford (where, it’s worth remembering, Essex absolutely never leave out Harmer). So all the talk of leaving out a spinner or Wood because the conditions won’t suit them is rubbish.

      And secondly in placing so much faith in a pair of seamers, Woakes and Broad, whose combined average on the last tour was around 49 and whose strike rate was over 100. Woakes averages 50 overseas and has once in fifteen tests taken more than three wickets in an innings; Broad averages over 37 in Australia.

      Woakes, Broad, Anderson, Robinson and Stokes looks like a terrifying attack to me–and not for the Australian batters! Unless there’s something they’re not telling us, I can’t see why they don’t trust Stokes’s fitness more. They absolutely need to play Wood unless the medical staff think there’s a serious risk that he’ll break down mid-game–which they clearly don’t because he’s officially fit–: there’s no point saving him or anyone else for a match that takes place after the series is lost; and they need to play a spinner.

      And, more than anything at all to do with the bowling, they need to sort out the batting. A team where only two players are averaging more than 29 in an entire year isn’t going to win under lights, sunshine or rain and on grass, astroturf, coconut fibre or taffeta.

  • So, a bright green wicket on a cool, cloudy day. We bat first, having left out two world class seamers. We pick a pie chucker to bowl them out in the fourth innings.
    Peter Drake teacher Hexham cricket nut

        • You haven’t mentioned the 2 he dropped.
          Yes, there is a far better keeper who has also scored as many test centuries as Buttler in about 10% as many matches. His name is Foakes and he’s with the Lions and will probably the only player to come back from Oz with credit in the bank.

  • I don’t know. Every Ashes tour is the same for me. Anticipation followed by deep disappointment. Will I ever learn?
    Peter Drake
    teacher Hexham


copywriter copywriting